Researchers working at the Large Hadron Collider have said they expect to discover the Higgs boson particle by the end of 2012.
If the LHC does not turn up evidence of the Higgs during this run, physicists say they may have to significantly alter their views of physical laws.
The Higgs boson particle explains why other particles have mass, but it has not yet been observed by physicists.
The LHC is housed in a 27km-long tunnel under the French-Swiss border.
It smashes together proton particles travelling at close to the speed of light in a bid to uncover secrets of the Universe.